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Tuesday, 17 November 1964

Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) . -I propose to be brief. This Bill provides in our present circumstances of peace for conscription for overseas service. The Australian Labour Party will not have a bar of that. What has been said here by speakers on behalf of the Government has had an air of unreality. Senator McKellar said that the United Nations is ludicrous, or it is-

Senator McKellar (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not say that.

Senator MURPHY - The honorable senator at least said that it was ludicrous to think that the United Nations could provide any effective protection for nations such as Australia. His colleague, Senator Prowse, interjected that the United Nations was useless. This is a proposition with which the Opposition will not agree. The United Nations provides some hope for the future of mankind. Only when there is some kind of a world federal government with military power centred in it will there be any reasonably certain hope of peace. But with the international agencies that we have and the regional agreements which have been made pursuant to the United Nations Charter, we have some hope of peace in various areas throughout the world. We ought to maintain this with all our effort.

The Government's proposals are for various matters to be attended to, which may give Australia some increased defensive power some years ahead in the future. What are our circumstances in this world? Australia is a small nation. If we look at what counts in terms of national power in this century, we see that power is an equation of population and industrial strength. When honorable senators talk in the terms that have been used yesterday and this evening in this chamber, one would think that Einstein had never lived, that Emit Fischer had never lived also, and that wars today were conducted in the ways in which they were conducted in past centuries. There is no doubt that this equation of population and industrial strength still holds true whether war is conducted as in the First

World War or World War II or any atomic war. One cannot divorce these ultimate factors of power from consideration.

Certainly Senator McKellar adverted to the question of population, and said that he was pleased that endeavours were being made to increase the population of Australia. My contention is that, as the population of a country tends to increase, so the military potential and power of a country increase. As the industrial strength of a country increases, so its power and its military potential tend to increase. If we consider the situation of different countries in the world, we see that those with a very large population have correspondingly larger power whether in terms of military capacity or otherwise, than those countries with smaller populations. If we look at countries with great industrial strength, we see that they have correspondingly great military potential also. If one examines nations which are comparable in population, such as Japan and Indonesia, one sees that Indonesia has a large standing Army, a Navy and an Air Force, and that Japan has forces which are not truly described as Army, Navy or Air Force but rather as some kind of police force. This Japanese force is not as large or superficially as powerful as the forces in Indonesia. Yet who would doubt which was the more powerful nation? Who would contend other than that Japan was far more powerful and had far greater military potential than Indonesia? This is because of the tremendous industrial strength of Japan. It is interesting to observe that the figures for industrial and increasing gross national product and national capacity are one order of the figures for the nations of the world, and that the spending on armaments is given in another order. This is significant because on the figures published in the daily newspapers in the last fortnight, it appears that, of all the countries in the world, Japan is spending the least on armaments. Its expenditure on armaments is the lowest in the world in proportion to its gross national product.

Appearing in the same editions of these newspapers were the figures for the rate of acceleration of the economy, the rate of industrial expansion and the rate of increase of all those things which go to make up not only industrial strength but also military potential. Japan was the world leader on these figures. This is not mere coincidence because the lesson of history is that to the extent that a nation spends money on armaments, it actually reduces its military potential. A nation may improve its immediate military strength by such expenditure, but it reduces its military potential. That was really what was behind the speech of Senator Prowse last night, when he asked why Australia should have spent money eight or ten years ago on all kinds of warships, aircraft and other material. He said they would have been obsolete by now and we would have wasted our money - we would have spent on those things money that we ought to have been putting into our economy. That is true, and it applies at any point of time. If you spend vast amounts on armaments, you must realise that you are reducing both your industrial strength and your military potential.

The Australian Labour Party has made certain practical suggestions. It has been said by Senator Cooke and a number of other honorable senators on the Opposition side - in an oblique way it was said by some Government supporters - that Australia ought to be spending more money to increase its industrial strength and its military potential. We believe that, in preparing for the proper defence of Australia, we should endeavour to increase the military potential. We believe that money ought to be spent for defence by exploring aircraft production, by improving pur highways and by doing everything we can do in the way of scientific research - not only in the field of pure science but also in the field of applied science - and development to increase the industrial strength of Australia. If we can do that and increase our population, we will be in a position of very great strength. If we can increase our population and our industrial strength, we will increase our military potential.

The proposal in the Bill does hot meet with the approval of the Opposition. We regard it as entirely unreal and as an election stunt. We trust that the people of Australia will share our view at the forthcoming Senate election and reject the proposal.

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